In a matter of two weeks, the National League race tightened up like Kim Kardashian in a cat-suit. Those making sports picks will have to make difficult choices the rest of the way this season. With four teams within three games of each other, baseball handicappers and those students of the MLB odds will have their work cut out for them. Let’s review each team’s upcoming scenarios.
The Brewers have played like many of the revelers hanging around the beer tents at the city’s Summerfest event on the shores of Lake Michigan, in losing 10 of 12 in July.
Milwaukee’s starting pitching which had been a strength, has fallen to ninth in ERA (3.86) and eighth in OPS (.698) in the NL. Marco Estrada has been pulled from the rotation after allowing 27 home runs or one every four innings he’s pitched.
The offense was also lethargic, averaging 2.6 runs a game prior to their 11 run outburst in the last game before the All-Star break.
No team in the National League has more remaining contests versus .500 or above teams than Milwaukee and they jump into the fire right away with a trip to Washington and opening a homestand with Cincinnati. We should find out right away if the Brewers just needed a break or if they are truly falling. Keep your eyes on Sportbookreview's live MLB odds page to stay on top of the changes.
St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee’s misfortune has been a benefit to the Cardinals, who have won eight of 13. St. Louis is averaging 4.4 RPG since being shutout on July 1, which is a 16 percent improvement over their season average of 3.7.
If the Cards are to remain a factor in the division, this kind of run production is a necessity, because it will be nearly impossible to beat the betting odds scoring less than four runs a game.
St. Louis is a solid 27-20 at home (-1.0 unit) and if they can improve on 25-24 away record (-0.9), the Redbirds could fly into the division lead.
No team in the NL Central has fewer harder games outside the division than St. Louis the remainder of the season. The Cardinals have an interesting series at home with the Dodgers beginning Friday before hitting the road for eight outings against pedestrian competition from Tampa Bay, the Cubs and San Diego, which will include three off days.
Cincinnati is the most profitable team in the division (+5.8) and has the best run differential to boot. The Reds are club with a lot of assets, with five quality starting pitchers, real strength with late-inning relievers and emerging stars in Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier.
Despite have a wretched bullpen for six weeks, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto mostly non-factors because of injury, Cincinnati is right in the thick of this race. If Mr.’s Bruce and Votto can make more contributions, every reason to believe the Reds can make a real run at another division crown.
For those making MLB picks, Cincy’s remaining slate is relatively balanced and they still have 10 matchups with St. Louis and nine with Milwaukee.
The Pirates continue to hover just above the breakeven point and in order to move up in this challenging division, their starting pitching will have to improve.
Pittsburgh is fourth in the NL Central standings and the starting staff is in the same spot in ERA, OBP and last in OPS allowed. The Pirates do not have much flexibility to add another bat, which would help and is another reason why sportsbooks consider them less a threat.
The Bucs cannot also continue with a 22-30 mark (-10.5) in division play. Besides several more contests with the other contenders in the NL Central, Pittsburgh has to play Detroit (4), Atlanta (7), Washington (3), the Dodgers (3) and San Francisco (3).
If the Pirates make the postseason again, they will have earned it.
Placing your sports picks against the Cubs would seem the prudent thing to do since they lost 40 percent of their starting pitching via trading and the replacements will be nowhere near as effective.
The offense has been substandard all year outside of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and with the front office’s refusal to allow the reported loaded farm system, to give these players a taste of The Show and to want them to yearn for more; it will be more of the same for Chicago.